Time for the yearly discussion about roundabouts. If you are already familiar with the roundabouts and use them properly, you can go read something else. For the other 98 percent of the populations, please read on.
Okay first off, I believe more people than not understand the use of roundabouts. That first paragraph was just a clever introduction. My experience at the roundabout in Thief River Falls is that most of drivers use it properly. However, roundabouts are going to become more prevalent in the near future so drivers that use them improperly will more often be exposed to them.
Plans for 2019 include two new roundabouts, one on each side of the new bridge that crosses the Red Lake River from Mark Boulevard to eventually a road that intersects south Pennington Avenue at 158th Street Northeast-the intersection where you turn to Challenger School. 2020 includes plans for three new roundabouts at the bypass by Petro Pumper along with a roundabout on third street at Brooks Avenue and another at Barzen Avenue. These are plans right now so if they change, that is beyond my control. The message here is simple, a roundabout is coming to an intersection near you so let’s use them correctly.
Roundabouts are built on the concept of right-of-way. There are many times you have to give the right of way but roundabouts are based on giving right of way to a vehicle already in the intersection. When you arrive to the entrance of the roundabout, look to your left which is where the flow of traffic is approaching. If there is no one approaching from the left, enter the intersection. Follow the roundabout until you come to the exit you want and then exit. It is that simple. DON’T stop in the roundabout and DON’T sit at the entrance to a roundabout to let a vehicle located at the entrance to the right of you enter. They have to wait their turn to enter which will occur when there is no traffic approaching from their left.
Roundabouts are safe with an 86% decrease in fatal crashes. The reason for this is the angle at which cars meet each other and the decreased speed required to use a roundabout. A car accident in a roundabout is usually only a glancing blow. One more thing about safety, pedestrians always get the right-of-way. Roundabouts make it easier to see pedestrians and for pedestrians to see cars however if there is a pedestrian in the roadway, they receive the right of way.
There is a common misconception that tractor-trailers cannot use a roundabout. If you look at the one roundabout in town you will notice the inner-curb is actually a truck ramp. I know from personal experience that the one key to performing any turn with a semi that focus is crucial so take your time, let the trailer use that inner apron, keep the tractor to the outside curb and avoid the roundabout if you have an extreme load.
Thief River Falls is growing and changing, these changes are the reason why town is beginning to look more like city. One of these changes are roundabouts, don’t fear them-use them-correctly.